Like all of our TRAKTOR controllers, the latest S4 has, after its honeymoon period of happy users tests and reviewer mixes, now been opened up, altered, and remapped beyond its wildest dreams. From the utilitarian to the unusual, there’s plenty that can be done.
It’s a kind of coming-of-age for our Haptic Drive hero – time for it to show the mapping mavericks and TRAKTOR tweakers what it’s really got. Even mapping legend Tekken has given it his treatment, so what better time than now to take a look at some of the coolest S4 hacks to appear since last year’s launch?
S4 screen tweaks
One of the most exciting screen hacks out there comes from Joe Easton. It includes larger, spectrum-style waveforms, color-coding for each deck, pitch, key, and BPM information, as well as a full-waveform track-end warning. Small touches like the BPM box turning green when decks are synced to the master, and the artist display changing color at 0% pitch make the most of the screen real estate for some extra visual feedback.
For those who like to mix in-key using the Camelot system, Kokernutz has made a nice screen mod that lets you choose which key notation you’d like to see displayed.
Tekken’s ultimate mapping
Tekken’s “KONTROL S4 MK3 Ultimate Mapping” throws new pad effects, a slicer, quick effects selection, and more into the mix. All of the original functions still work, so this mapping essentially adds bonus playability to the S4.
Arguably the coolest feature of this mapping is the slicer. Anybody who has dived a little deeper into the S8 and S5, or has used TRAKTOR DJ on an iPad, might have an idea about how this works. Pressing SHIFT and STEMS instantly activates the slicer mode – each pad then corresponds to a segment of the track which can be played like a one-shot sample.
Things get interesting when you activate a loop in this mode. Loop between two of the segments by holding their respective pads down. It’s a good way to create big build-ups, loop polyrhythmic elements in more percussive tracks, or to chop up vocals in hip hop and grime. To make sure you’re still on-beat after twisting things up, enabling Flux Mode at the same time ensures you can skip back into the groove after going wild.
Combining this with the Mixer FX is a nice way of really experimenting and performing with a track, rather than just playing it. Filtering out some of the bass can help things sound a little cleaner if you find your slices sounding a bit jumbled in the low-end.
Tekken’s mapping also lets you toggle or trigger different effects using the RGB pads. Some of these can be combined with each other in interesting ways, and they all work in addition to Mixer FX.
You can also select effects right on the S4 by holding SHIFT and turning the effect knobs.
A lifesaver hack is the backwards loop setting. Holding shift and pressing the loop encoder will set a loop with the endpoint at the playhead’s current position. If a track is about to drop or break, then it’s a good way of giving yourself more time, or even of building tension when used creatively, such as repeating a hook or rewind-worthy vocal.
There are a few other small tweaks to the S4 that some DJs will find pretty useful – deck duplication shortcuts, finer key adjustment, and a browser that closes automatically when a new track is selected on the S4.
The best thing to do with these is to try them out. Mappings can be easily imported into TRAKTOR via the preferences, and screen hacks require delving into TRAKTOR’s application files. Make sure you back up any files you change, and remember that if you run into any problems, you can clean reinstall TRAKTOR via Native Access.