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Old 14th February 2012 , 05:26 AM
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Default Native Instruments Kontrol S2

1. Name of the product:

N.I Kontrol S2



2. When you bought the product:

Saturday 4th Feb 2012

3. Why you bought it:

After a DJ gig in Leeds just before Xmas, I decided I wanted to pick it up properly again after a long break. I looked round over December & January, toying with different ideas and systems. I tried getting more into Live but just couldn't get the feeling and control. I looked at DVS but it seemed overly fussy. Larger packs like the s4 and Pioneer DDTJ 1 were too pricey for me to indulge. Then NI dropped the price on the smaller s2, so I decided to jump in and give it a go...

4. How much did it cost:

329

5. Installation / Setup:

Relatively simple. Use the Traktor install disc. It contains the full Traktor 2 software, as well as drivers for key related hardware (namely the X1, s2 & s4). Some other bits that I didn't think I'll need, so I selected custom install to save space.
It should however be noted that after updating to the latest version of Traktor 2 via download. The left platter and fx section didn't function properly. I had to use the Restore Default option to get things back in order. I tried the re-calibrate tools for both the platter and fx section, but no avail. This points out that it's an issue with something in the software update, rather then something in the firmware or hardware.

6. What do you like about it?:

Lots to like here. So I'll summarise:
1) Build quality. It feels solid and the output is easily capable of driving a club system.
2) Dedicated booth out. Something missing on the pricier s4.
3) Layout & functionality of shift/modifiers. This makes the s2 very easy to use. I prefer the way the sample decks are accessed in comparison to the s4, and things like holding shift and cue point will delete the cue you just set. Another nice touch is that holding your cue point and then pressing play switches into playback. A method I used to favour for no reason whilst using CDJ's previously.
4) The ability to switch between Native and General MIDI mode instantly, jsut by holding both shift keys down simultaneously. This is near genius. I'm currently mapping general MIDI mode to copy the layout of the A/B decks for C/D decks. And all that's needed to switch between them is the shift keys. I don't think I could turn and use another controller that quickly.
5) The cue mix is nicely biased. Going from 1/2 Cue/output to full output doesn't blow your ears off (like some club mixers do).
6) The Mic switch is a nice touch. Easy to locate and operate.

7. What don’t you like about it?:

1) It would be nice to have a single stereo input. Even just to operate as a through incase the laptop crashes etc. Nor can it act as an input for Traktor Scratch.
2) No dedicated filter controls. In the software update this was addressed by mapping shift to modify the gain knobs to achieve this. But still...an extra 2 encoders wouldn't have been too costly. It would have probably taken sales away from the s4 though.
3) It's quite difficult to remap and customise. Basic MIDI CC's are covered by the MIDI learn function. But using the modifiers should be easier or better explained.
4) So far in general MIDI mode, I've not found a way of addressing the LED level meters. They show the levels of decks A/B in native mode. But I can't replicate that function in MIDI with decks C/D.
5) No Mic input trim on the hardware. Then in the software..it looks like a deck must be turned into a live input to get a signal from the mic in (I'll stress I've not tested this yet). If so this could be an inconvenience to people that way to MC and use 4 decks or 2 decks / 2 sample decks.

8. Any improvements:

Hardware:
An input/through and filter controls. Also a physical switch to turn the platters off and maybe temporarily stop the s2 sending data to Traktor. The platters can be turned off in the software, but by making the improvements to disable the controller briefly....DJ's would be able to take toilet breaks knowing that no fool has climbed over the booth wall and started playing.....anyone who's played in a bar with vinyl or CDJ's will understand this little niggle.

Software:
The remapping options to be easier. The current process of removing a default function is quite difficult.
A dedicated and permanent mic section. Please don't make me waste a deck on a mic input.
Better marking of samples created in Traktor's sample decks. Currently it seems that samples cut from tracks inherit the same tags in the main browser. It'd be nice to set the default to keep them out of the main library and just in the loops section.

9. Comparison to similar products:

At this price point the S2 sits in a crowded market. However since it comes with a full version of Traktor it is quite unique. The closest competing system I can think of (ie same manufacturer for hardware and software) is Avid Torq Exponent. After previously trying Torq I was impressed with some of it's features (VST support for example) but feel that the Exponent controller wasn't as well built as the s2, nor did the the Torq software seem as well laid out and easy to work in.
It's a similar story for controllers partnered with 3rd party software. LOTS of competition from companies like Hercules, Numark,Vestax etc. They nearly always come with LE versions of the software, which means careful research is needed to pick the option that suits the DJ best. Then we must talk about build and features. Quite a lot of these controllers feel very plasticky and crucially all seem to be quite generic, because they are designed to be used with the wide array of digital DJ software that's now out there. In terms of hardware mirroring software for control, layout and features there's nothing else for 329, nor do I see anything coming along to compete anytime soon.

10. Would you buy it again:

Yes.

11. Platform:

Windows & Mac. See manufacturers data for compatible versions

12. Pros and cons summary:

A solid controller & software package, flexible enough to be used with other software if required. Excellent value at this pricepoint. Traktor is due a massive update in April to 2.5, which will feature a new launchpad style controller and the transformation of sample decks into a feature called remix decks (giving it an Ableton-esque feel). Whilst this might put some people off the purchase. I think that the changes are only relevant to people that want that format for playing out. I'll be happy with Traktor as it is.

13. Rating:

4/5
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Last edited by EdRyan; 15th February 2012 at 03:16 AM. . <
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Old 14th February 2012 , 04:50 PM
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Solid review Ed, well done fella
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Old 14th February 2012 , 04:51 PM
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.... But 5.26 a.m. - ?? D'ya have insomnia?
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Old 15th February 2012 , 02:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by modz1 View Post
.... But 5.26 a.m. - ?? D'ya have insomnia?
Not even funny Paul. My sleeping pattern (or rather the lack of it) is getting out of control. Working 6 nights a week etc. It's gotta change soon !

The s2 isn't helping. I get home and want to play !
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