The new RGB buttons for the transport and cue controls are a huge improvement on the Mk1, with a smooth rubberised “MPC” feel to the surface (and the elimination of the previous problem of the buttons getting stuck in the down position, getting caught on the edge of the button aperture when pressed hard). These feel tactile, responsive and infinitely more playable.
So, about those shiny new aluminium jogwheel tops. Well, they are exactly that, just “tops”. There is no other part of the jogwheel construction that differs from the Mk1, except a different circuit board for the mechanical scratch contact underneath (we know this because there’s a video on YouTube of a guy actually pulling apart the Mk1 and Mk2 demonstrating the difference, or lack of it).
This is a welcome and much-requested feature on the S4. They are TRS outputs, switchable between booth and main output, and with a volume knob for when in booth-routing mode.
Control over Remix Decks
They’ve had a go at providing additional control over the Remix Decks, and once you wade through the manual to work out what’s what, the feature is certainly a lot more accessible and controllable, but unfortunately not enough. You still need an F1 (or another controller now you can map third party ones) to truly have a blast and get the most out of the Remix Decks.
Flux Mode button
The popular Flux feature has not previously been available to control via the S4 (except by manually mappping to a button of your choice) so it’s good to see that one of the redundant tempo fader mode buttons has been sacrificed for this, conveniently located just by each jogwheel.
The button that was previously mapped to toggle in and out of browser mode is now mapped to play the highlighted track in the preview player, and by holding down the preview button you can use the browse knob to scroll through the track and audition for energy levels and breakdowns, etc. This is a huge improvement, as the preview player is a fantastically useful feature but was fiddly and slightly confusing to work with on the Mk1.
One word, wow. The integration is incredible, and there’s only a hint of “squelchiness” when sounds are manipulated at super-slow speeds. The fader response is super quick, and transformers, chirps and flares all sound great. The only slight niggle is that when compared to scratching using Traktor Pro 2, you need a much firmer hand here, to ensure the app stays in scratch mode.
The best feature the S4 (and the S2) bring to the party here is that with sync and keylock disengaged, you can manually beatmatch using the tempo faders and jogwheels for nudge, unlocking control not allowed when using Traktor DJ alone on the device. This means the software is no-longer restricted by “sync-only” DJing, and if you are wanting to hone your manual beatmatching skills it’s now possible with Traktor DJ.
The “1″ and “2″ buttons which in Traktor Pro assign the corresponding FX bank to the channel, work slightly differently for Traktor DJ, when button “1″ is pressed the FX selection/viewer window for that channel slides into view on the left side of the waveform to show what’s going on. On the controller the the dry/wet and three FX encoders above the corresponding deck, control the FX for that deck.
Push the loop encoder and your track starts looping at the indicated beat length, but when you push the move encoder, you enter the loop slice mode, and things get interesting. The loop is split into eight equal slices, assigned to the eight cue buttons (well, the four cue buttons as 1-4 and the four remix / sample trigger buttons as 5-8) so you can slice and play around to your heart’s content.
We fired up a three-year-old iPhone 4S and took the risk of running iOS 7 – and everything worked fantastically. The only downside is the vastly smaller screen size (especially in an iPhone 4S) meaning that features accessed through the touchscreen are more fiddly and squint-inducing. However, the X/Y pad becomes full screen when you hit the “1″ button and turns the whole phone into a performance pad.