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The age of the digital DJ is now, and with huge forward leaps made in the past few years the quality of computer DJing hardware is continuing to rise. In this, the latest Instrumania review, we’re going to take a look at the Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4, which despite being released over a year ago, still offers a simple, one-stop solution to laptop DJs.


The Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4 package contains everything the modern day computer DJ could need, except of course for the laptop! The all in one four deck software, controller and audio interface system is based on tried and tested Native Instruments technology. The Tracktor Kontrol S4 also comes with the benefit of Pro S4 software, along with new sample decks and a live loop recorder, which enables users to edit and record loops on the fly for a creative DJ experience.


What made the Kontrol S4 so exciting was its standing as the first 4-deck controller built by Native Instruments for its popular Traktor Pro platform. The addition of the Traktor Pro S4, designed specifically for integration with the Kontrol S4, ensures a smooth and intuitive operation. The most significant difference with the Tracktor Kontrol S4 is the addition of two sample/loop decks that can stand in for the 3rd and 4th track decks, along with a loop recorder that includes layered recording for live improvisation.


These two key additions have taken the Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4 from strength to strength, and with dedicated control systems which offer both responsive and smooth control, usability is assured when operating faders or implementing filter sweeps and effects tweaks. The S4 is also not currently compatible with DVS systems yet, although Native Instruments say this feature will be introduced soon. 


Drawbacks of the Kontrol S4 include the fact that operating on USB bus power alone is not recommended due to dim LEDs. Some users may also still prefer to have a supplemental grid controller. Price is currently at the higher end of the spectrum that most laptop DJs will be willing to pay, which is not tempered due to the lack of a price break for licensed Traktor Pro users. However, with admirable integration between hardware and software, the Kontrol S4, whilst not trying to be all things to all DJs, is closer to that than many other products which have been developed with ubiquity as their sole intention.    

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The Behringer Pro Mixer DJX700 is widely believed to be a cheaper imitation of Pioneer's legend the DJM-600. In fact, it’s simply a blatant copy of the Pioneer DJM600, just made cheaper.

 

A professional 5-channel DJ mixer, the DJX700 has a variety of great features, enough to instantly ingrain itself on the short list of must-have industry standards.

 

The DJX700 is equipped with high-grade 45-mm Ultraglide faders and with 500,000 cycles life expectancy, they outperform standard faders more than 20-fold. Voltage Controlled Amplifier technology goes hand in hand with their faders, meaning the audio signal does not run directly through them; instead, the faders only provide a control voltage to the VCAs. This means that practically no audio noise is caused by mechanical wear at all.

 

The features are truely impressive. The DJX700 comes with 47 breathtaking digital effect presets in 24-bit quality: delay, reverb, flanger, filter, panner, ultrabass, exciter, Vinylizer, voice changer and more, each one well made and professional sounding.

 

The Behringer DJx700 includes a BPM counter to try and take a lot of the guesswork out of matching tracks. The idea is that features like Sync Lock and Beat Assist will help to seamlessly align 2 tracks without having to rely solely on your ears. Unfortunately, the BPM counter is more like a BMP guesser and accuracy drops even lower above 160BPM. Matching tracks is an art in itself and with the Behringer’s BMP counter, you’ll still need a pretty good ear to match up seamlessly.

 

Behringer also gave the DJX700, the XPQ 3D surround function which widens the stereo image and adds life and transparency to your sound. Sounds great but the "surround" feature is really just some kind of expander and bleeds noise when used through big PAs.

The sound is generally pretty good, but at the top end there’s a little noise that bleeds through into the PA, even with no sources plugged in, though the noise gets much worse if you turn on the "surround" feature. Otherwise, its pretty decent for a cheap DJ mixer. The layout, like the Pioneer DJM600, is perfect. Two turn tables and two CD mixers are an ideal setup for this unit and can all be used concurrently. Everything is in a very logical place, which makes mixing so much easier.

 

If you’re looking for a cheap DJ mixer packed with 5-channels and a professional sound, but can’t afford the Pioneer DJM600. The Behringer Pro Mixer DJX700 is an ideal substitute.

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