When you’re seeking out a quality DJing controller, you can’t get any better than the Traktor Kontrol MK2 S4 and Kontrol MK2 S2. On a very general level, both offer professional quality, from seamless integration with Traktor Pro DJ software and the Traktor DJ iPad app, all while allowing for portability.
The question, then, isn’t so much whether one device is better than the other. Instead, it’s along the lines of, which one suits your needs better?
As an all-in-one 4+1 channel DJ system, the Kontrol S4 MK2 essentially gives intuitive performance by placing all crucial features right at the user’s fingertips and allowing for plug-and-play functionality with Traktor DJ for iPad and iPhone (a firmware update will be required). Physically, it features 66 buttons and 40 knobs, two knobs and two buttons per deck for the loop section, and a jog wheel.
Considered the more professional out of the two (this doesn’t mean, however, the S2 is solely for amateurs, as you’ll see below), the Kontrol S4 feels upgraded compared to previous Traktor devices. The colored RGB buttons are both a physical and functional improvement for triggering cue points, loops, samples, and the Flux Mode buttons, while a loop recorder acts as a fifth deck, letting the DJ include an additional layer into the mix.
What’s particularly helpful, especially for the DJ preferential to older gear, is the MIDI input and output that allows the Kontrol S4 to sync with other devices. This versatile system connects to your turntables, CD players, instruments, and other MIDI devices.
Traktor’s Remix Decks™ feature is also activated directly from the software. Remix Decks™ offers looping and cueing functions, 30 possible effects, and a built-in mix recorded for live remixing or rearrangement of tracks with up to 64 loops or one-shot samples per deck. In the case of the Kontrol S4, the user has access to pre-made sets from the top artists, allowing the opportunity for the DJ to add his own touch.
While Native Instruments engineers the Kontrol S2 to the same standards as the Kontrol S4, there are a few notable differences, so don’t think both are simply interchangeable. For one, the Kontrol S2 offers a more compact design. Two, its quality is accessible enough for newer DJs to experiment with it but also expansive enough that professionals won’t get bored.
As the major difference, the Kontrol S2 MK2 is a 2+1 channel device, offering all components a DJ needs for an iPad or iPhone. Native Instruments particularly pushes this aspect, which is pretty crucial, as, unlike the Kontrol S4, there are no MIDI inputs or outputs, but it does support multiple controllers. So, if you own a turntable or CDJ, consider the Kontrol S2 your quality go-to device for on-the-road mobile DJing.
The smaller design means fewer controls are present: in this case, there are 40 buttons and 27 knobs, along with your standard browsing section, jog wheel, and a mixer with a crossfader and channel line faders. With these features, the DJ has control of two channels and can mix in samples.
While not a direct part of the Kontrol S2, the device integrates well with Traktor Pro 2, which gives the option of Remix Decks™. From here, the DJ can access all of the standard features.
Overall, Native Instruments got the Traktor controller exactly right this time. Integration, no matter if you select the Kontrol S2 or S4, is perfect – although that’s somewhat of a given in this case. The DJ has excellent control of pitch-bending with the solidly-constructed jog wheel, while the RGB colors prove to be an asset when you’re performing in darkly-lit clubs and venues. And, for both, the option of taking your device on the road with just an iPad or iPhone exists – especially important when you can’t drag a bunch of gear around.
Ultimately, though, the choice comes down to the DJ’s preferences. If you’re looking for a quality DJing system that works well with your turntable or CDJ but still gives the option of working with a mobile device, the Kontrol S4 keeps your older devices relevant while still working with the latest technology. On the other hand, if a lightweight system that reliably works with your Apple device is a must-have and that’s all you’re after, the Kontrol S2 is more than sufficient. Either way, you’ve got a next-level DJing device with practically perfect integration, solid construction, and an intuitive design.