Traktor Kontrol S5 DJ Controller Review

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Traktor Kontrol S5 Review Overview

traktor-kontrol-s5-review-angle-1Our Traktor Kontrol S5 review will cover everything you’ll need to know to decide if this DJ controller from Native Instruments is right for you. We’ll review the main features like STEM capability and Touchstrip, and also address some questions you may have about how it works with the lack of jogwheels.

Feel free to skip down to the bottom and check out some of the videos showing the Kontrol S5 in use. It won’t take long for you to see why DJs love this controller and have a ton of fun using it.

It’s worth noting that if you’re a turntablist or would rather work with CDJs instead of using a laptop as an audio source, you’ll need to check out the Kontrol S5’s bigger brother, the Kontrol S8.

Here’s the table of contents for our Traktor Kontrol S5 Review:

  • Which software does the Traktor Kontrol S5 work with?
  • What is STEM compatibility, and why do DJs love it on the Kontrol S5?
  • What makes the Traktor Kontrol S5 different from the Traktor Kontrol S8?
  • Specs / Features
  • Pros
  • Cons
  • See it in Action

Which software does the Traktor Kontrol S5 work with?

While it can be used with any DJ software with MIDI support, the Traktor Kontrol S5 is built for, and comes with Traktor Pro 2 software. It is important to note that the vibrant displays, one of our favorite features on the Kontrol S5, don’t work with other software.

Because of this, if you don’t plan on using Traktor Pro 2 we would suggest looking at other controllers.

Another note worth mentioning is that the Traktor Kontrol S5 is not currently compatible with Traktor DJ.

What is STEM compatibility, and why do DJs love it on the Kontrol S5?

STEM files are fairly new to the DJ scene, and are sure to stick around. STEM files allow you to separately control different parts of the song, say vocals or drums, instead of controlling the entire song.

The song gets split into four elements – melody, vocals, bass, and drums. This split makes it easy to do things like mute vocals while keeping the rest of the song going.

While some STEM compatible controllers have faders to allow you to control the different elements, STEM capability is controlled through the Touchstrip of the Kontrol S5.

What makes the Traktor Kontrol S5 different from the Traktor Kontrol S8?

The Kontrol S8 is essentially the Kontrol S5’s much larger brother. Some of the features of the Kontrol S8 had to be stripped away to accommodate for the much more portable size of the Kontrol S5. The Kontrol S5 is still enough controller for most DJs and makes more economic sense because of the reduced price.

The Kontrol S8 was built with a more technically savvy crowd in mind, and isn’t as simple to jump in and get used to as the Kontrol S5. The Kontrol S8 does however carry some extra inputs and can be used as a standalone mixer. This allows you to connect your turntables or CDJs instead of a laptop – something you can’t do with the Kontrol S5.

STEM control also varies between the Kontrol S5 and the Kontrol S8. On the Kontrol S8 the STEMs are controlled via faders, whereas they are controlled with the Touchstrip on the Kontrol S5.

Specs / Features

traktor-kontrol-s5-angle-4A few things about the Traktor Kontrol S5 stick out right off the bat.

For us, it was the colorful 16 pad Touchstrip (8 on each side). The Touchstrips replace the need for jogwheels and allow you to do some pitchbending and basic scratching. Control hotcues and enjoy Flux Mode.

The Touchstrip is nestled right underneath two vibrant high-resolution displays. DJs love how easy the displays make it to see everything at a quick glance, so they’re always in control. Not only do they look great, but they also provide a ton of function. You can cue up your next track, see your STEMs separated into their four elements, and keep an eye on effects. The knobs are touch-sensitive and allow you to move around quickly and easily. You can also control the Remix Decks from the Touchstrips.

Here are some other features:

  • Traktor Pro 2 software is included
  • Vibrant, high resolution displays
  • Stem compatibility
  • Hot Cue controls
  • Touch-sensitive controls
  • 16 pad Touchstrip for nudging, scratching and pitchbending
  • Remix Deck controls
  • Mixer with crossfader
  • Filter knob for each channel
  • LR and RCA master outputs along with a 1/4 inch booth output
  • Mic input
  • Dimensions: 22″ x 6″ x 15″

The Traktor Kontrol S5 does not have:

  • Compatibility with Traktor DJ (Traktor’s iPad and iPhone software)
  • Dedicated loop recorder controls
  • USB bus powered
  • Inputs for turntables
  • Punch mode
  • Jogwheels
  • Multi-controller support
  • MIDI input/output

Pros

  • Solid controller that can handle punishment
  • Easy to navigate and work with
  • STEM capability makes this a controller of the future
  • The high-res displays and bright Touchstrip makes this controller not only quick to navigate, but really visually appealing as well
  • The feature on the Kontrol S5 completely eliminate the need to look at your laptop throughout your set
  • Touch sensitive knobs allow for greater control
  • Portable size allows you to move it from place to place without any trouble

Cons

  • Our biggest complaint is that you can’t connect turntables or other audio sources and use it as a standalone mixer. Not a big deal if you don’t use them, but that is one thing we prefer about the Kontrol S8

See it in action

We’ve got a few videos for you so that you can learn more and see the Kontrol S5 DJ Controller in action. The first video is a mix that someone did using the Traktor Kontrol S5 DJ Controller…because who doesn’t want to see it in all of its flashing lights and knob twisting glory?

The last video is the beginning of a playlist from Native Instruments themselves, going over some of the individual features of this DJ controller.

Mojaxx from DJCity.tv does a thorough overview and review of the Traktor Kontrol S5 in the video below. He discusses the differences between this unit and the Traktor Kontrol S8.

Want to find out more? Check out the Traktor Kontrol S5 on Amazon.