The Kontrol S8 brings some cool features to the controller world, it is Native Instruments flag ship model and it is a beast of a machine. It brings some innovative features and great workflows. Lets check it out.
Traktor Kontrol S8 Review:
The Kontrol S8 is the upgrade that Traktor users have been waiting for. Its an all in one DJ Controller with no jog wheels, but touch strips, it has built in screens, and comes with a high end finish to the surface. It has managed to place itself among the best of the best DJ controllers.
The S8 is the best working controller to use with Traktor and it does it beautifully. So lets get into it and see what Native Instruments is calling the future of DJing.
First thing you will notice is that this is a big controller. The controller is in your face and not in bad way. It looks great and feels great. Its build quality is better than the Kontrol S4. Two 4.7”screens are on the unit itself, one on each deck. You wont be finding jog wheels on this controller though. Instead of jogs you get some faders, encoders and buttons.
The four channel mixer offers a short throw crossfadyoer with lots of room to move around it for scratching. The panel below the faders comes out if you need servicing. There are ¼” and 1/8” headphone jacks on the front of the mixer as well as crossfader assign and curve controls. It has three-band EQs, FX assign and cue buttons, normal gain controls and per-channel filters with on, off buttons. The central channel has cue mix and volume, main and booth volumes, mic assigns, snap and quantise buttons and a master tempo.
XLR and RCA mains, TRS booth outs, 4 full line/phone switchable inputs with ground pole, two mics, Kensington lock, USB and power are all in the rear of the controller.
Using the Traktor Kontrol S8
Starting with the screens, they give you a nice looking display if you want to tuck your laptop away. Its one of the first things you see when you look at this controller. You are able to customize the colors a bit in the settings.
Waves look big and smooth coming across the screen, showing the full-track view near the bottom and more details up top. For looping, cue points, and beatmatching phase meters are shown with LEDs on the touchstrips. Easy zooming with buttons on the right hand side of each screen. You are also able to toggle BPM and key lock with buttons around the screen.
FX, Key and BPM
When using the knobs, the screens automatically change and will show you a percentage as well as a bar version on screen. Super user friendly, and a nice addition. Its also easy to select FX, you can do this with the “FX select” button and the browse encoders.
Key functions work great but with BPM it gets a bit harder. To adjust BPM on the S8 you need to press the BPM button then choose 1/1000th of a BPM adjustment. Its kind of an annoying process to change the BPM.
Split screen allows you to look at decks c and d on the bottom of the screen.
When touching the browse button it instantly switches to you library on the screen, but you don’t get any control of what you see on screen. When browsing for a track on one screen the other cant be used to browse for a track. While it is definitely liveable I think it could use a tweaking in the software.
The pads are familiar functions, they consist of the hotcues, loop and freeze. They work like most pads do.
The touchstrips replaced the jogwheels on the S8, and they aren’t really missed. The strips still feel like your spinning a jog.
When tracks are playing, the touchstrips only nudge, if you want spin to end the track, you must change it to cue/scratch mode.
For manual beatmatching, you need to disengage sync.
The mixer is awesome and its build well. It looks high end as well. Four channels gives you great options. You are also able to bypass traktor completely.
The Traktor Kontrol S8 is a great DJ controller which really utilizes its software. However it does have some downfalls.
If you are looking for a controller that you can manually beatmatch on, its not the best option. The lower end models do that better like the S2 or S4.
If manual beatmatching is that important to you than youll be happy with the user friendly experience this brings to the table. Having the mater temp knob gives you control over four decks. The onscreen beatgrid controls are smart and fast for times where you need to adjust on the fly. And the screens on this unit are great.
It’s a great stand alone mixer and a great addition to any setup. Buy the Trakot Kontrol S8 if you like EDM, syncing, and remix sets.
The unit is on the higher end of the price range. If you just want to play songs get an S2 or S4. It is definitely and investment you need to be serious about your career in DJing if you are looking at this. And make sure you like using Traktor.
Here is the Traktor Kontrol S8 in action, check out this awesome mix!