NI Traktor Review Part 2

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Now that I’ve spent a bit more time with the Traktor S8 controller, I wanted to add to my earlier review with some other things I thought people would be interested in.

For starters, it seems that the meters are improved on the S8. Maybe it’s just me, but I always felt the meters on the S4 were way too fast and never really seemed in time with the music. On the S8, things are definitely more like a traditional DJ mixer.

One thing I do miss from the S4 though, is the loop recorder controls. While you can do a lot of the same functionality with capturing to remix decks, it does use a deck and lacks the simple and focused set of controls you might be used. I know a lot of people say they never used the loop recorder, but it was one of my favorite features.

Another useful shortcut that’s gone is the ability to preview your tracks in the Browser, you have to load them to a deck first to cue. Not a huge deal, but the older method of pushing encoder to cue, then load with a separate button press was brilliant I thought. I hope NI lets us choose to use the old functionality some how.

Speaking of the Browser, one other small annoyance is there’s no way to see if you’ve played a track or not via the S8’s display. This makes it impossible to see what you’ve played earlier in the night, a major disappointment. Hopefully we get a little more flexibility in what gets displayed on the S8 in deck mode, as there’s a lot of things I’d love to customize more. Being able to see minute marker in the waveform display for one, though at least we can see the time played and remaining for each song.

One thing that’s really nice though is being able to grid your tracks right from the controller’s displays. The method is more or less identical to how it works in Traktor on iOS devices, though you can also hear a metronome tick to help you if you want. There’s no way to add Start or Grid marker unless you revert to the computer, but overall the implementation is smart and really speeds up prepping new tracks. Good stuff.

Also I wanted to mention that I watched the free DJ Techtools S8 tutorial videos that came with my order from them. Overall I thought Ian did a really great job a covering the basics and more advanced techniques over the course of the 4 videos. The last video in particular shows you a lot of real world uses for the remix decks and freeze functionality via the S8.

Lots of really good ideas, though many times the streaming from the site reduced the video quality so bad I couldn’t see what was going on. I’m sure that’s partly related to my bandwidth at the time, but it would be nice to have downloads of the videos too. Pirating issues, I get it.

Overall I really am impressed with the S8 still. The remix decks have been easy to learn and make use of, and things are laid out in a way that makes a lot more sense to me. Also just the overall build quality improvements are nice. I never though the S4 was bad, but it definitely was a very plastic looking and feeling unit. The S8 finally feels like a pro-quality DJ tool, something you wouldn’t be hesitant to bring to a big gig. Should you want to deal with the size and weight anyway.

Hoping to finally record a mix with it in the next day or two, we’re in the middle of packing for a large move and finding the time to get in that headspace has been hard 🙂 Stay tuned.

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