The Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S8 is the latest and greatest DJ controller from NI that can operate as a completely Stand-Alone 4-channel mixer, has touch sensitive controls, high quality user-replaceable faders, and dual high resolution screens for all the Traktor information one could need without glancing at their laptop. The Remix decks controls replace the jog wheels and pitch sliders for each deck, so it may not be for everyone... Check out our review video to see our thoughts.
Review Video & Demo
Setup & First Impressions
The Traktor Kontrol S8 is the biggest controller that Native Instruments has created for DJ's. It's quite a bit bigger than the S4 and it also has better build quality with a brushed metal top face-plate and a heavier feel overall. The rest of the unit is mostly plastic with rubber feet at the bottom with screw holes in them that look like they could be used for bigger feet to lift the S8 up to real turntable/CDJ height. The Traktor Kontrol S8 can work as a completely stand alone 4-channel mixer without a computer. There are four Line/Phono RCA inputs, two microphone inputs, two headphone outputs, three outputs, and MIDI connections.
The S8 is designed to work as a centerpiece in anyone's DJ setup so that the user can connect Turntables, CD decks, or any other source for music playback. The S8 channels can switch between virtual decks and live mixer inputs on the fly and when the external decks are routed through Traktor, the user can then take advantage of all the cool Traktor effects by applying them to the source material. The Traktor Kontrol S8 has a standard four-channel mixer section complete with 3-BAND EQ, gain knobs, and hardware filters. The faders can be easily replaced with factory models or Innofader Minis thanks to a section in the top plate that allows for easy removal.
The deck sections no longer have jog wheels and pitch sliders like the S2/S4... The S8 has dual High-Resolution screens which were essentially pulled from the NI Maschine Studio and they show lots of Traktor information including effects, loops, hotcues, waveforms, album artwork, track time, BPM, key, and much more. Under the screens are the Remix decks effects routing controls, volume faders, and RGB pads that can be used to launch clips, loops, hotcues, and the new Freeze Mode. Under the pads are the touch strips for scrolling through tracks, setting up cue points, and nudging for light beat-matching duties.
Watch the Full Review Video Above for the Detailed Breakdown of all the Traktor S8 Features!
Conclusion / Recommended For
In Conclusion, the Traktor Kontrol S8 DJ controller is a great tool for DJ's who have a library of sync-enabled music or for those who want a powerful Traktor tool at the heart of their external deck setup. The Traktor Kontrol S8 has great build quality with a nice weight to it and metal top panel. The S8 is also a true standalone mixer with four RCA inputs and the three different output types. The S8 also sports those high resolution screens that show lots of pertinent Traktor information so the user doesn't have to use their laptop as much as before. The S8 also has the absolute BEST Remix deck implementation due to the addition of the Screens which make it easy to scroll through the pages of Remix Decks content and launch clips and loops on the fly. The Traktor Kontrol S8 also has the new Freeze Mode (Slicer to some...) implementation with the RGB multicolor pads.
On the downside, the Traktor Kontrol S8 is really designed for DJ's who have synced and perfect beat-grids in their music libraries so DJ's who use manual methods for beatmatching will have to use external decks such as turntables or CD decks to spin a whole set. That means most DJ's who spin Hip-Hop, R&B, Reggae, Funk, etc will need more gear in order to play on the S8. The other minor gripe is that even though the S8 has dual screens, I still had to use the laptop screen for track searching and other library information that is not present on the S8. Other than these two issues, the Traktor S8 is a great update and addition to the NI family of products and it is especially useful to those DJ's who really want to use the Remix Decks to make their own music on the fly during their DJ sets.
- Great Build Quality (Metal Top Panel)
- True 4-Channel Standalone Mixer (Many inputs/outputs)
- Dual Screens For Traktor Software Control Info
- Best Remix Deck Implementation
- Freeze Mode
- Must Use External Decks For Manual Beatmatching
- Still Use Laptop Screen for Track Searching & Other Info