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Kontrol S4: The Ideal DVS mixer?

The DVS and controller worlds have been largely separated until now. The analogue mixer is almost always the center of attention for turntablists with controllers occasionally showing up on the side of the turntables. Native Instruments dares to ask why and suggests you give their controller a try by offering a free Traktor Scratch upgrade for every newly registered S4 owner. Our understanding is, buy a new S4, or register your “newly purchased” S4 and you will be sent a brand new pair of records along with a Traktor Scratch Pro license. Sweet!

THE CONTROLLER MIXER

For those that missed it, the S4 has two phono inputs so you can connect the turntables directly to your controller and use them to scratch any of the four decks. The S4 faders then control the internal line levels and all mixing happens in the software. The prospect of using a controller as your DVS mixer is interesting and has a few clear pros and cons:

++++

  • Easy access to all four decks at once in a small footprint.
  • Full software deck controls right next to the mixer.
  • Always available four channel mixer.
  • Internal mixing means one less A to D conversion (most top mixers are digital now).
  • With high quality faders and knobs, plus mixer spacing- the feel will be very similar.
  • Jog wheels can be re-mapped to effects or other interesting performance tools.

——-

  • While possible to mod, it’s not easy to swap this fader out for something more battle friendly.
  • The wider stance means more space between turntables.
  • Digital internal mixing means you lose all that forgiving analogue headroom on good mixers with compression per channel.
  • You may grow dependent on this kind of a setup and miss all the deck controls when using a clubs installed mixer.
  • The S4 lacks a booth output, which for many club situations is a small deal-breaker.

THE KILLER DEAL

Here are the required steps:

HOW ABOUT MAKING IT EVEN SWEETER?

To celebrate the 4th of July holiday, our popular web store is running a special. Just re-post our status on facebook and we will send you a promo code for some serious cash off. Total value of the package is over $300!

To claim your code email orders@djtechtools.com with the subject line “July Facebook S4 Promo”

This deal is done! We’ll have more in the future.

  • Quick question for anyone….My laptop dj days started with Traktor Scratch Pro w/ my 2 technics a couple years ago…..picked up the S4 this past summer from a friend….now messin’ around with just one turntble aside of the s4. Am I not supposed to be able to cross-fade out of channel C or D with out using the volume sliders or what? Also- has anyone tried using their old vinyl and received a staticy output?
    Thanks, Mosaic

  • Forget what you know about DJ controllers and DJ software. TRAKTOR KONTROL S4 was designed from its conception as a fully integrated system where software and hardware are fused in perfect harmony. Once you experience it, you’ll immediately feel how simple, yet powerful and fluid a professional DJ system can be. TRAKTOR KONTROL S4 is the culmination of a 10-year vision and experience only Native Instruments can provide. So whether you’re a seasoned TRAKTOR user looking for the ultimate controller, or just entering the world of digital DJing, the S4 delivers like no other can.

    Custom-tailored for TRAKTOR, the S4 fuses a premium-quality 4 channel DJ mixer, a built-in 24 bit/96 kHz soundcard, an intuitive controller, and the flagship TRAKTOR PRO 2* software into one fully professional solution – the ideal one-stop package for DJs who want pro features, instant usability and go-anywhere portability. 

  • Soulflexin

    One more thing i think wasn’t mentioned as a pro.
    The S4 is a controller and therefore provides the perfect back up in the situation of a bad analog set up in the club ie. bad needle, audio cables, turntables etc

  • Damn, this setup is what I’ve been looking for. A couple of turntables and an S4. 

  • Foxtrot-design

    so could can you only play timecoded vinyl with this?

  • Foxtrot-design

    so could can you only play timecoded vinyl with this?

  • Foxtrot-design

    so could can you only play timecoded vinyl with this?

  • Foxtrot-design

    so could can you only play timecoded vinyl with this?

  • DJ Jester

    Hey Eon, it seems like a lot of people are pissed over the free scratch upgrade, myself included.  I get the idea of marketing, sales and promotions, but us early adopters that supported and positively reviewed the S4 when it first came out are feeling pretty neglected considering the upgrade is still well over $100 just for a serial number!

    Since you were a major player in the design of the S4 I hope you have a bit of pull.  Maybe you can secure a cheaper upgrade for DJTT members?

    Just a thought that might play well with a lot of people.  See what you can do?

  • Bcharlton

    THAT’S SOMETHING WICKED DAM….. DATS WHAT EVERY DJ’S NEEDS.FROM BLAINO DE MAINO

  • KLH

    Ideal mixer, huh? What happens when the computer is off? How do you run a microphone? 

    -KLH

  • B3NNY

    I like how NI is doing whatever they can to attract more people to buy the S4 when people are still dealing with the same audio issues that have been present since it first came out yet still havent been fixed and they barely acknowledged they even exist

    • cutterfish

      They must REALLY need to make back their investment.

  • I totally agree with the people saying that NI are unfairly treating the early adopters – i think we should get a huge discount for upgrade on this at the very least. Say full upgrade for $40-50 – that would be a lot fairer.

  • Abel

    am new to dj and bought traktor s4 out of random… anyone can give some tips to a newb dj? (>_<)

    • cutterfish

      Practice. Focus on staying on-beat. Practice more.

    • start by sitting down with your laptop and software and just mess around with what parts of what songs go together well. Then fuse those findings into a DJ set. Find tricks for switching bpm, and once you put together and execute a 2 hour mix, start over with all new songs, and repeat that process a few times. This will build up your song list, skills, and you’ll really enjoy the final product. Constantly learn, never think that you’ve mastered something. Learn how to manually beatmatch, but don’t steer clear of the sync button. it’s a valuable tool that can make the most intricate mixes possible. And most importantly, practice and enjoy.

  • I think us early adopters of S4 (started using it beggining of November last year) have the right to be bitter about NI treatment. We’ve been through countless hours trying to get rid of audio drop outs and clicks, 3 driver updates (until one that’s actually functional), 2 software updates and now we’re forced to buy scratch functionality for 150$. In any case, the problem is that NI has no serious competition so unfortunately I am and will be a faitfull Traktor user (since the days of Traktor 2.0).
    My question to whoever knows is whether the scratch upgrade that i’m thinking of buying for my S4 will also work with my audio 4 card i still have (for the days I don’t want to carry around the bulky S4).

    • the serial number for scratch should be linked to the software, not hardware.

  • Cmack9

    I am just about to sell my Rane TTM 57SL serato mixer to buy and S4. A couple of reasons..
    -I am moving to Canada for a couple of years and want the portability of the controller to be able to take to house parties
    -I will be keeping my 1210’s so when I am back I can have my TT’s plugged into the S4 and utalise the four channels.

    It is a surprise to me that you can’t use the mixer for the 1210’s without a computer attached. (You can currently play standard records on the Ranemixer without Scratch live) This is a big negative.. but im still keen on the S4.
    Am I making a mistake considering i would like all the control, effects and mobility whilst overseas??
    Anyone else in a similar situation?
    C-Mack

  • This site is too Traktor biased. Can’t we see what going on in the rest of the DJ world? What’s happening with SSL or Virtual DJ? I own a VMS4 and its cheaper than the S4 and it’s still a great analog 4 channel mixer. Where’s the rest of the market and the research? If you only support NI then don’t act like you don’t. Cover the spectrum.

    • fair enough- we continue to strive to improve our coverage to include a wide range of topics and controllers. I personally happen to be an expert at Traktor, so that is what I write about most of the time because it is where my value lies. We are always looking for new writers who are experts in other areas as well.

  • dj

    hey ean. I am trying to add an s4+tma 1 bundle in my cart, but it only adds the s4 to the cart, without the tma-1.
    what can i do?

    • Nic

      Hi, having a similar issue….any help guys?

      • Anonymous

        Just add both products to your cart
        -Bobby

  • Hammerd

    NI has lost my respect. I had ordered the S4 flight case 6 months ago, and they still have not been able to get it to me. Backorder, 6 months? REALLY? Now they are giving away Scratch and I can’t get it for free or for a discounted price because I’ve owned my S4 for too long? Screw NI.

  • Diego

    So…  If my S4 has been registered months ago…  I don’t get anything?

  • cutterfish

    So the S4 has a 4 channel mixer, but no FX loop, and NI has not yet invested the time to make jog wheel scratching usable. And it has four cue-point buttons.

    So, why is this better than a 4 channel mixer plus an X1? It takes up less space, and you only have to haul one piece of gear. But, it’s not good for cue point juggling, and it’s not good for scratching, so, it’s a mixer. That runs internal mixing only. So it’s not really a mixer.

    Why am I buying one of these again? It’s pretty, but I can’t scratch with it, and I can’t cue juggle with it.

    I mean if they’d at least included 8 cue buttons I could justify it, but already owning an X1, a mixer, and a launchpad ($200+$300+$100), I don’t see the point. I guess if somebody was just starting out it’d be a good deal? But the other way is still cheaper. I want to like the S4, but no FX loop and the 4 button thing really kills it for me.

  • Sorry I actually think DENON dn-mc6000 with traktor nailed it on this one, a lot less $ and a lot more features… plus the reliability of Denon on it… even with TORQ is the best…

  • Existing S4 users should be given the free update too. Unfair!

  • Djo1006

    I got my S4 when they first shipped and I love it; However, I saw that they are now offering a free midi fighter with purchase, and now a Traktor scratch package?? Love you guys and will always support, and I hate looking for handouts or deals but at least give us guys that have had the S4 a discount or something. I mean, come on. Come on.

    • we try to be really careful with discounts, and not piss people off that bought gear and missed out. It’s a fine line for sure.. Just one clarification, we are not and never will offer free midi fighters. The special right now is: buy a midi-fighter with a s4 and get $100 off the s4. Its our way of giving people a break that support us with the big ticket buys instead of the larger chain stores.

  • Jfd6812

    wow. this is the biggest bs i have heard in awhile. I have heard for awhile that NI screws its customers by doing things like this.  they have the nerve to charge $140 for the scratch upgrade, and then offer it for free? BS.  I have come close to purchasing the upgrade a few times, and now im glad i didnt.  this type of lame move is enough to keep me from upgrading ever, and maybe from purchasing any more products from NI in the future.

  • So the old users, that bought the idea back in the beginning wont get any gifts?? That’s really fair…

  • Tom

    You should write more things about NI’s hardware thingies. I haven’t read about them for ages. And about the S4, of course. Something about NI would be interesting, too – hey, why don’t we ever read about their latest controller (S4, IIRC) here? Or just for the sake of variety an article about Native Instruments’ controller series. S4 for example.
    Seriously, I don’t have anything against NI – but there’s a whole world beyond their product line about which we really have read a lot recently. However – didn’t they just relase a new controller? “S4” or similar? Why doesn’t somebody write some article about it?

  • anyone get the evoucher yet in your email?!?! 🙂

  • Johnlawlor365

    how much is shipping to ireland?? just want to know so i can weigh up if its cheaper to buy from you guys? will i have to pay an import tax

  • Garygary1

    Pleeeeease NI, please, just make a digital mixer

  • I am a bit upset for real. I got my S4 about 2 weeks ago. They should give us a break

  • ok so, s4 comes with tp2 but the upgrade is for tsp? no tsp2?

  • Zvimiller

    since when the S4 supports timecode via vinyl ??

  • Johnlawlor365

    europe is a rip off will i need a volt converter if i purchase an s4.I live in ireland

    • Noelflava

      no they come with a built in converters, and plug adapters…

    • Johnlawlor365

      how much is shipping to ireland?? just want to know so i can weigh up if its cheaper to buy from you guys? will i have to pay an import tax

      • Eoghain

        John im fairly sure we have to pay a shite load of tax on things from the states. Best option is get it posted to someone in the states, like a family member or friend and then get them to post I to you to avoid being robbed by dear old Enda. You could easily be paying anything from 0% to 13.5%. Then you add vat on top of that which is 21% + courier fees… It’s cuntish  

        • Grahamteeling

          It still works out cheaper to buy from techtools than buying in europe. even with the import tax and the postage. DJTT always claim the package is worth less than half the price and that in turn makes the government charge you waaay less on the import tax.

          • Eoghain

            It is obviously still going to be cheaper to get it off djtt but it is a piss take that in the world we live in it works out cheaper to get gear from the other side of the world instead of somewhere closer. You could easily be paying €860 / $1,200US for the s4 in europe + shipping. This is why ean and the tech tools team are legends. 

  • @twitter-67265349:disqus  leeG the EQ is more forgiving on a analog mixer it has more range, the eqing is done internal and on software not hardware on the s4, it takes about a week or two to get used to it then ya fine, plus u can get or make a custom Tsi mapping to make traktor have 4 EQ channels not 3 like on a allen and heath 🙂

  • Alex_byrne1

    NI stitches us early adopters up again now they’ve got our money and we’ve ironed out all the bugs … no wonder people download pirate versions including the scratch upgrade from piratebay…

    • Sinjintek

      speak for yourself, i got my free scratch upgrade when i got my S4.. you must have been sleeping.

      • Jared

        Neither of us early adopters got the free control vinyls with that scratch upgrade. [/fine print]

      • Remote

        Really? I’m prepared to ease up on being grumpy if I missed the chance but all I saw was an upgrade to T2P? Not the scratch edition

    • I had no problem. I had Traktor Scratch Pro (1), and then bought the S4 and got the Traktor Scratch Pro 2 upgrade for free… grant it, I did not receive any free control vinyl or CDs, but I already had them, so I really didn’t care….

  • This is cool, but for my setup, I use an APC40 to mix 2 Technics 1210s in the box with Ableton Live (with Deckadance VST) – I get DVS/full vinyl control – plus the entire world of Ableton Live on top

  • Anonymous

    I was deciding when to buy the S4 and this deal just tipped me over the edge to buy it.  I have just returned from WestEndDJ in London with my new S4 and I can’t wait to get stuck in!  They said that sales had peaked at roughly 2 or 3 a day in May to 1 or 2 a day in June.  So if that’s typical then this deal from NI is to keep the sales going.  Simple as that guys.  Early adopters get the cool new toys and late adopters get the deals!

  • Schaap

    This is what I found in this Thread, on page 2: http://bit.ly/k3x2fH
    The S4 has two master outs. You can use one as the actual master to the house sytem and the master out you can purchase an inline volume control for 40 bucks and plug the booth speakers to that and control the volume in your booth with it.

    Maybe this is a solution for the booth out problem?

  • Dandyrandy88

    god damnit. we who already have the s4 should just have them sent to us for free

    • ian

      I agree. I paid off my S4 1 month before this was available and have been having software issues for weeks. They still haven’t fixed my issues, have made no attempt to even try,and refuse to give me the upgrade so I can see if uninstalling and installing another version will fix it.

      I feel ripped off honestly.

      • that’s how NI works, unfortunately. Less than a year ago I paid $200 for traktor pro 2, and just recently bought an audio 2 for $100 just to find out they’re giving away traktor pro 2 in just about everything they sell now, and dropped the price to around $80. But I still think traktor is the best software for controllerism and will continue to buy NI products

  • Hey guys. The ‘Register’ link ain’t working! I’m wondering if us early adpoters (especially the first shipment guys like me from DJTT) are able to register our S4 and get the deal?

    • B3NNY

      No.  on NI website it says when you activate the software that comes with the s4 in July 2011 you get the voucher for TSP2 sent to you.

  • Mark

    DJTT – is this a genuine article or an adertisement? Wouldn’t the NS6 be more of an ideal club mixer with its 4 x input channels, booth out, balanced XLR out and solid metal chassis?

    • Sinjintek

      hahaha, that’s *almost* like asking Ean if he thinks someone else’s creation is better than his own work (read the NI website, Ean largely helped design the S4)… why don’t you digitally spit in his face while you’re at it!

      besides, the NS6 looks great on paper… but then so did the NS7 and V7, both of which are barely on the market with Numark desparate to pawn them off ($200 rebates + free flight cases?). Why? because Itch SUCKS! Don’t mention v2.0.. we’ve been waiting since 2009 for it, and it’s still not out so you don’t know. also, the only report i’ve heard on the NS6 Traktor map provided by Numark is that it’s not that great.

    • We just got the Ns6 in the office and will also look at that one from the same perspective. Yes, in many respects, the ns6 is also a great candidate for this type of setup although it is much wider, making the turntables even further apart. 

  • Damien Paul

    @3dac3d13c70285017c34a4cc5c8dc76b:disqus, the headroom comment refers to higher end traditional mixers that offer compression on each channel of the mixer.  This helps if the gain of one track is too high, it won’t sound as badly distorted. 

    As for the booth output, this is a separate set of audio outputs on traditional mixers that has an independent volume control.  These typically go to the overhead speakers in a DJ booth, so that the DJ can hear what’s playing in the booth.  This helps when mixing because you’re listening to the sound directly coming out of the booth speakers and not from the sound waves out on the dancefloor, bouncing off the walls, then to your ears.  Also, having a separate volume control lets you set the level of the speakers in the booth at a different (usually lower) level do you don’t blow out your eardrums.

  • Remote

    Balls. NI should do a discount for all the rest of us. $139 USD? the vinyls are ~$20AUD at my local store and all it is from NI is a software upgrade. Should be a free upgrade for software with BYO vinyl for all the early adopters…

  • Antidotesince79

    I dont think the S4 was meant to be the main club install for everyone to use. At the moment I think some cdj’s and a pioneer mixer will remain the standard. When I do clubs I just plug my S4 into the pioneer mixer and play. Never had any problems. As far as the booth is concerned, if I have a mobile gig I just bring my Behringer 802 which was like 60 bucks. Plus my S4 into and now I have a booth and main output. I have a 13 inch MacBook so it fits right next to the MacBook when using the NI flightcase. I have the scratch upgrade as well. It’s a whole lot if fun still being able to rock 2 technics and and go back to using the S4 solely.

    In regards to switching in and out between djs the club install will typically have the cdjs, turntables, and now you have the option of plugging in what you would like whether it be midi or whatever. In fact is much easier to switch when a DJ is using serato or cd’s cause you can plug right in and mix into there set. It’s harder when two djs are using serato and you have to switch laptops. I have the S4 to make my life much easier. The dj’s I go before/after like it also cause there is a smooth transition. Real mixed will always have to be part of the equation for a club. Don’t think that will ever change.

  • nome

    1. why spend 900 $ on a DVS + oversize mixer/soundcard if you can get a NI DVS for like half the price and quater the package size?
    2. why spend 900 $ on a oversize mixer/controller which doesn’t work without a computer if you can get a nice mixer/controller doing the same or even a better job for half the price?
    Doesn’t make any sense..

    • Sinjintek

      it doesn’t make sense if you fail to recognize that there are many different people who think and feel differently than you do.. people who may not wish to do without the features in Traktor, or don’t wish to try to use their keyboards to launch/control said features.. or be bothered with not only trying to choose 3rd party midi devices that will adequately handle their desired usage let alone trying to learn how to midi assign.

      honestly, considering your failure to realize any of these things brings about the question of how you can determine if something that is half the price truly is “better” or even on par. am i saying that S4 is the only way to go? not at all. but i certainly cannot consider yours an “educated opinion”

      • David X

        From a reliability standpoint, ALL of those other choices at half the price are better options!! I’m in the market right now for an upgrade as a matter of fact. An external sound card, analog mixer and an X1 is far more reliable set up from NI. If my computer fails (as even the best do) I can immediately start mixing using an alternative sound source. I get paid $250 an hour and the events are critical to the people that hire me. In other words I better not F it up. A good non NI option is the Denon 6000 which IS an analog mixer and doesn’t rely on a computer being booted up to keep the show going. I know three people with S4’s and the audio drops out. It’s a real problem that NI isn’t fixing. Surgically having to disable most of your computer to make it work right is a joke. You can buy any Numark product with a built in sound card and it’s plug and play no audio drop out or resource crashing, why can’t NI provide drivers that work on a PC. Lots of people have dropped another $1200 on a new computer thinking that was the problem but it is not. I know two people that have S4s and I have used them, nice system but NI obviously doesn’t know what it is like to be center stage in a club or event on a big sound system using an unreliable system!! It’s like driving in the middle of the desert and needing gas..  

  • Important!

    MAKE SURE NOT TO REGISTER IT TODAY. The promotion actually starts tomorrow and if you register today, you will screw yourself out of it.

  • Nice advert DJTT did NI pay you for this post?

    • If they did is that a bad thing?

    • not at all- we are never paid $ for posts. We post things that: Help, Inform or Teach and this article hit 2 of those points. 

      • I love that you go through the comments and set people straight when they try to be wise asses. Great post as always, Ean, love the site.

    • Sinjintek

      O_o, ….

      you do realize that NI and Ean Golden collaborated on the design of the S4 right? DJTT also sells the S4 in their own store…

    • Hedgezeppelin

      anyone who questions ean for having traktor products on this site is a fool… traktor is sick.. its fuckin rips.. the s4 is an amazing controller.. what do you want them to post about ?

  • Too anyone whos thinking this article is about Club applications they should pull there heads in.. Its not.. theres more to DJing than clubs.. 

    Booth is not required in a smaller room environment.

    Infact DJ tech tools should clear this up in there articles when there not talking about club applications..

  • Funky B

    The easy solution for booth output is to run the S4 through the club’s mixer.  As for headroom, just watch your levels.  I’m currently looking for a more portable solution for smaller events and I’ve narrowed it down to the S4 or Twitch.  The S4 is much more flexible and built to work with Traktor but I’m waiting to see how powerful the slicer effect is on Twitch.

  • Although I love my S4, I think there are a couple more negatives that are potential deal-killers.

    First, it is not possible to use the S4 as a stand-alone mixer without it being connected to a computer.  This is a big deal in an environment where DJs switch in and out, because there’s no cover source (like a real record or CD while the DJs change over).  This means that a “real” mixer still needs to be a part of the equation – so what’s the point?

    Second, the faders are untested for real turntablist performance.  I know AI is working on an Innofader mod, but even with that has anyone measured fader lag on it?  The lack of a performance fader, untested performance, and non-traditional setup for common turntablist features (like hamster style, fader reverses, etc) make it a less flexible solution than most inexpensive battle mixers.

    I totally see the attraction – the S4 ticks the DVS box now as well.  It’s a great added feature.  But I don’t see this as a suitable option for many of those who have kept turntables at the heart of their setups.

    • “a “real” mixer still needs to be a part of the equation – so what’s the point?”
      Exactly why I don’t like those new controllers that have a built-in mixer. I don’t want to carry around my own mixer when there are mixers in the club

      I know it’s another story for portable DJs, though…

    • I agree with the point of midi for internal mixing…
      I’m moving up to a setup with iPAD and 2 channel External Mixing and I’m really loving it.
      Setup: Notebook + iPAD + Numark DJIO + old Behringer djx400
      Works perfect and it’s really pleaseful to setup

    • There can be some good benefits anyways… after all would you rather spend $1999 on a DJM 900 only to have it on your bedroom for practice? Or buy an S4 for $899 and do your mixes with that and still be able to have your turntables. Most reputable clubs now days have a good system, (djm 900 + cdj 2000’s) so even if you have the same set up at home it will stay at home. I don’t think the S4 was really meant to replace club equipment… serious clubs can spend serious cash… but an individual might not have $4000+ for a set up that will mainly stay home since the clubs already have systems.

  • LeeG303

    I’m a little confused on 2 of the “Cons”.

    “digital internal mixing means you lose all that forgiving analogue headroom on good mixers with compression per channel

    the s4 lacks a booth output, which for many club situations is a small deal killer.”

    I’m new to controllerism so I have no idea what that first one means, can anyone explain that?

    Also, what’s a booth output? Is that similar to the headphone monitor output?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Im 100% positive there not talking about home applications. Therefor booth is not needed. 

    • Hey, 
      Analogue headroom on good mixers with compression basically means that analog mixers do a good job of keeping you from sending too much volume to the speakers which then causes distortion, makes all the girls stop dancing and sends you home with your tail between your legs. 🙂

      Booth Out is a second output that goes to monitors (speakers) that are really near you, or in the dj BOOTH, so you can hear what’s happening with no delay from speakers far away.  

  • There is no separate booth output on the S4 so there’s nothing to map a button to. You can use one of the two main outs as a booth output but you’ll need some type of volume control externally for that. 

  • This has always been my intended path and I have two TT’s sitting next to my S4 right now.  I haven’t bitten the bullet on the scratch upgrade yet though as I have plenty of real records to play on them. That free deal should help convince lots of people to go ahead and get the S4 though. 

  • DJMIXali

    i’ve got this setup and though convenient and easy to set up with turntables, its extremely large.  If only NI would come out with something like the DJM-T1 that was more reasonable in price…

    • Hmm, I think NI must have seen your comment and also thought it was a good idea.

  • Coldfuzion

    Is there a way to map a button to booth volume control?